The Senior Partner
Abraham was a dreamer, maybe one of the greatest ever. God liked that about him - at that time in history, He desperately needed a dreaming friend. The Lord had been waiting for just the right dreamer to come along, one He could partner with to recapture His dream. These two friends walked together for many years, enjoyed a special covenant with one another, and modeled for all of us the power and beauty of divine-human partnership. Their story begins in Genesis 12, where God initiates His plan by instilling a dream in Abraham.
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you…’”
Please notice that God began His journey with Abraham by appealing to his dreaming nature. How fascinating is that! “I’m going to make you My partner in rescuing My dream, Abraham. And I’m going to begin by giving YOU a dream.” Why, when looking for someone to help him recapture His dream, would God approach it this way. He could have just demanded that Abraham do what he wanted. But the Lord is well aware of the strength of our dreaming nature. He placed it there, after all. And also, He loves it when we dream.
With this in mind, God knew that for this partnership to endure for a lifetime, Abraham would need the freedom to release this God-given nature. It couldn’t be a one-sided dream. Therefore, God began by placing a dream in Abraham’s heart regarding the birthing of a great nation. An incredible dream-marriage was born: “I will make from you a great nation” - Abraham's dream. “And in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed” - God’s dream (Genesis 12). (The Messiah would come through this nation.) Having established the all-important fact that God was including Abraham in the dreaming process, two very important principles concerning dreaming are revealed in this inaugural meeting. The first of them is that when we become dreaming partners with God, He must always be the Senior Partner.
Jehovah was inviting Abram into His world, not vice versa. He is the Lord and Creator; we are the created. He’s the leader, we follow His leading. Though promising a great blessing to Abraham. God was obviously the one offering the terms and conditions: “Go to the land I will show you…I will make you…I will bless you…I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse” (Genesis 12:1-3). Twice in the passage, Abraham is seen building altars and worshiping the Lord. This clearly demonstrates his devotion and submission to Yahweh. The order is clear: God, the Senior Partner, is offering a conditional partnership to Abraham, not the other way around. The rewards for Abraham were great, but only if he chose God’s terms and conditions
So often we reverse this, acting as though we’re doing God a favor by allowing Him into our dreaming world, even going so far as to approach Him in a deal-making manner: At times, we offer God token pieces of our dreams, time, money, and desires, all the while acting as though we’re doing Him a favor. How preposterous!
The other important principle shown to us in Genesis 12 is that dreaming requires risk-taking. It required a huge risk and great faith on Abraham’s part to pursue the dream God was offering. Don’t forget, the Lord was requiring Abraham to relocate to an unknown place. Yahweh refused to give him many details up front, even refusing to reveal where He was leading him. “You just go, Abraham, and I’ll lead you along the way. Pack everything and follow me.”
What a challenge! The faith this required was incredible, and for Abraham the risks were monumental: What if I’m not hearing God correctly? Or, what if this isn’t actually God talking to me? To Abraham, however, the dream was worth the risk! He took the chance, and God never forgot the trust he demonstrated. Holy Spirit was still thinking about it hundreds of years later when He inspired the book of Hebrews.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place where he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)
Those who need the comfort of the familiar or the security of the known should forget about dreaming. The required leap of faith will always be a bit too unsettling. They’re like the African gazelle, which can jump fairly high and up to thirty feet in distance. In spite of this, they can be confined in zoos with only a three-foot wall. The reason: Gazelles won't jump if they can’t see where they will land. We are often like the gazelle, blessed with great ability and potential, yet imprisoned by the fear of the unknown.
Predictability and mapped-out routes are for nondreamers and Google Maps. Dreamers, on the other hand, will be found heading into the unknown…going out on a limb…and at times, hanging by a thread. Pick your own risk cliché, just know you’ll have to do it. But when God is the source of the dream, that makes Him the limb, the thread, and the guide into the unknown. True faith is not reckless, but neither is it riskless.
When Apple Computer fell on difficult days, Apple’s young chairman, Steven Jobs, traveled from Silicon Valley to New York City. His purpose was to convince Pepsico’s John Sculley to move west and run his struggling company.
As the two men overlooked the Manhattan skyline from Sculley’s penthouse office, the Pepsi executive started to decline Jobs’ offer.
“Financially,” Sculley said, “you’d have to give me a million-dollar salary, a million-dollar bonus, and a million-dollar severance.”
Flabbergasted, Jobs agreed - if Sculley would move to California. But Sculley would commit only to being a consultant from New York. At that, Jobs issued a challenge to Sculley: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want to change the world?”
In his autobiography Odyssey, Sculley admits Jobs’ challenge “knocked the wind out of me.” He said he'd become so caught up with his future at Pepsi, his pension, and whether his family could adapt to life in California that an opportunity to “change the world” nearly passed him by. Instead, he put his life in perspective and went to Apple. (1).
Changing the world always requires the inconvenience of change and the unsettledness of risk. Abraham took this risk and, though he didn’t know it at the time, stepped into the greatest partnership imaginable: working with God to save the world. “In you,” the Lord told Abraham, “all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Though I’m certain Abraham didn’t fully understand the phrase, in hindsight, it is clear. If you’ll trust Me with your future, Abraham, I’ll let you in on Mine. You can be My partner in redeeming the world - the Messiah will come through you!
Incredible! Dreaming with God to save the world!
In His quest to redeem the world back to Himself, God is still looking for partners. He places dreams in human hearts, then discreetly hides one of His in it. He always has a dream of His own hidden in the dreams He gives us. If being a stay-at-home mom is one of your dreams, rest assured God has great plans for those kids. Why not elevate your dreams of raising children to that of producing God-partners? If your dream is to make great sums of money, why would you want to do so only to enjoy it for a few short years? Why not partner with God through your money, and by doing so, also lay up treasure in heaven where you can enjoy it forever?
Whatever your God-given dream, look for one of His hidden inside. It’s there. Once this reality is discovered, it changes our thinking. Our dreams are elevated to a heavenly perspective, and we now see them as having eternal significance. This allows God to become more involved in their fulfillment, bringing supernatural favor and blessing to our efforts. And with Him as our Partner, anything is possible.
Pray with me:
Father, You have placed dreams in us, some of which we haven’t even yet discovered. You’re looking for those who will allow You to dream through them. We honor You as King and Lord, and desire to dream what You have planned for us, not generate our own dreams and ask You to bless them.
We also want to dream fearlessly. When You place dreams in us that require high levels of faith, help us to respond as Abraham did, being willing even to venture into the unknown.
As we prepare for the coming season, we want to dream with You of a BIG harvest. We want to dream Your dream of changing nations and reforming the earth. Break us free from earthbound dreams and launch us into Your world of eternal, heavenly dreams. We pray this in the name of Christ, Your dreaming Son.
We declare that we are a people of faith, dreaming big dreams with and for God.
Today’s post was taken from my book Dream.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
[Dutch Sheets Dream, Discovering God’s Purpose for Your Life (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2012), pp 85-91.]
Craig Brian Larson, Contemporary Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 187.